Emergentism as option to dualism & reductionism

#1
https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2013/...ave-souls/

EXCERPT: With many, I take mind-body dualism of Descartes’ sort to be implausible. We have had an explosion of relevant information from evolutionary and developmental biology and cognitive neuroscience. [...] However, de la Mettrie’s reductionist vision is even less plausible than mind-body dualism: conscious states of experience, thought, emotion, and purposive agency are our most immediately accessible empirical phenomena, and consequently they lie at the root of all our understanding of the world around us.

We are not simply given the world to our understanding; we are given most immediately our experiences of it. To deny this givenness is to cut off the branch on which scientific understanding sits. And, while not self-defeating, the claim that all such experiential and belief states and purposive intendings just are enormously complex neural states or processes is also deeply implausible.

We have direct, first-personal acquaintance with properties of these states that are manifestly different in kind from the hierarchically-structured physico-chemical properties of the brain states that are the most plausible candidates for such an identification. Just consider the feeling of a sharp pain or of coming to understand a complex scientific idea; how a red rose looks to you in bright sunlight and then later at dusk; the confident, considered belief that Beijing is the capital city of China; the thought that it is doubtful that there is life on Mars; and your conscious decision to pick up some milk on the way home. Each of these conscious states have distinctive intrinsic features, immediately apprehended by their subject, that in no way resemble the sorts of features science attributes to complex neural states

If neither dualism nor reductionism is plausible, what might a middle way alternative look like? Start by noting that the reductionist ‘atoms in the void’ conception of nature came under fierce scientific challenge in the twentieth century, and is growing ever stronger. (For a sampling of evidence from diverse contemporary sciences, see the Feb 2012 themed issue of Interface Focus: A Journal of the Royal Society entitled ‘Top-down Causation: An Integrating Theme Within and Across the Sciences?,’ co-edited by cosmologist George F.R. Ellis, systems biologist Denis Noble, and myself.)

Despite such evidence, De la Mettrie’s reductionist vision has had a tenacious hold not just on the beliefs, but also on the imagination, of many scientists and philosophers. They have lost sight of the ‘Aristotelian’ alternative. Aristotle’s specific philosophical account of objects as form-matter compounds is no more appealing to many of us than are his antiquated physics and biology. But his broader nonreductionist, nondualistic vision is very much worth developing in contemporary terms.

A number of scientists and philosophers attracted to this vision have latched onto the term “emergentism,” and I will follow them here. But we should be careful to note that this term has meant different things to different thinkers. Here I mean a view on which human persons, other sentient animals, and possibly a wider array of complex systems are wholly materially composed while having irreducible and efficacious system-level features. These features are originated and sustained by organizational properties of the systems (in animals, by properly functioning brain and nervous systems) while also having in turn causal influence on components of the system in its evolution over time. That is, emergent systems involve an interplay of ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ causal factors. While they are not fundamental building blocks of the world in the way that fundamental particles or Descartes’s souls would be, they nonetheless are natural unities, causally basic entities.

The difference between reductionism and emergentism is empirical. The reductionist posits the bold and sweeping thesis that all organized phenomena in our world are wholly fixed or determined by comprehensive micro-physical patterns constrained only by global features such as the topology of spacetime. The emergentist recognizes that such fundamental-level physical laws apply everywhere, but holds that they are incomplete: corresponding to some kinds of organized complexity there are additional laws, interfacing with the fundamental laws, that are no less basic, though they have application only in limited contexts. These laws identify holistic properties of specified system kinds and describe both the preconditions and causal impact of their occurrence. This is nothing objectionably strange or ‘magical’ in such a layered picture of physical reality as against the ‘flat’ picture of the reductionist: both are pictures of the world as law-governed and causally unified, open to scientific exploration and description. Hence, deciding whether our world manifests emergence should be a matter of empirical evidence, not a priori presumption or bias in favor of the tidiness of reductionism. For many of us, the evidence, particularly when it comes to human psychological phenomena, points strongly in favor of emergentism.

And now I return to my question: What is the nature of the human soul? What we know from our own subjectivity and agency, evolutionary biology, and the emerging sciences of brain and behavior point in the direction of human beings as wholly materially composed individuals—yet composed individuals of a very special, emergent kind. We are living bodies, dynamically changing parts as all bodies do, but bodies with psychological and moral (and perhaps spiritual) capacities that do not reduce to the outworkings of a vast network of impersonal physical particle interactions within the human brain. To have a human soul, on this account, is to be an embodied creature having (in some measure) such personal capacities or the biological potential to develop such capacities.

MORE: https://www.bigquestionsonline.com/2013/...ave-souls/
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#2
A middle ground would seem like a worthy compromise between reductionism and dualism. Dualism as a stance has been debunked in a number of different arguments. This emergentism having its source in evolutionary Biology would seem like a worthy contender for a proof of no after-life. Aristotle's confusion on the soul was not without merit after all. His ideas received some worthwhile critique as we see here. But we still leave the question of God to be open to consideration.
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#3
I take that back. Emergentism is only partly correct. There is an after life and we are an embodied consciousness after all.
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#4
(May 2, 2018 09:55 PM)Ostronomos Wrote: I take that back. Emergentism is only partly correct.


"Computational conjuring" actually would be a magic act if minus incremental development from or manipulation of something prior. Such brute emergence leaves the backdoor open to dualism and whatever other rivals. Since there would only be correlation to the process and no deeper explanation that fundamentally makes experience a native resident of nature (as opposed to abrupt intruder). Phenomenal manifestation is left a casually impotent add-on to physical affairs which, again, amounts to spell-like invocation by algorithmic procedure.

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#5
(May 3, 2018 02:52 AM)C C Wrote:
(May 2, 2018 09:55 PM)Ostronomos Wrote: I take that back. Emergentism is only partly correct.


"Computational conjuring" actually would be a magic act if minus incremental development from or manipulation of something prior. Such brute emergence leaves the backdoor open to dualism and whatever other rivals. Since there would only be correlation to the process and no deeper explanation that fundamentally makes experience a native resident of nature (as opposed to abrupt intruder). Phenomenal manifestation is left a casually impotent add-on to physical affairs which, again, amounts to spell-like invocation by algorithmic procedure.

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Fascinating. What could be considered prior? The brain? This brute emergence would require an artificial environment would it not? Are you implying a kind of artificiality with regard to the incremental development and correlation to the process of such a development? I see you call phenomenal experience a resident of nature but that would be prior to the incremental development would it not?
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#6
CC,

A pre-programmed algorithm would suffice as a duplicate for the human soul? In such a computational conjuring, do you think our evolutionary drives and unwanted baggage would be erased, using a humane method to perfect human consciousness, allowing it a kind of purity of which no taint is known? Can we make progress in this type of filtration? Would this require a kind of "reverse conditioning", or is this even possible in theory?
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#7
(May 4, 2018 04:45 PM)Ostronomos Wrote: CC, A pre-programmed algorithm would suffice as a duplicate for the human soul? In such a computational conjuring, do you think our evolutionary drives and unwanted baggage would be erased, using a humane method to perfect human consciousness, allowing it a kind of purity of which no taint is known? Can we make progress in this type of filtration? Would this require a kind of "reverse conditioning", or is this even possible in theory.


Arguably need to simulate the whole brain and body down to chemical interaction levels to mimic all the quirks of embodied human thought and behavior. Whether or not the end result would result in a p-zombie is an open question. If experience can be produced by or correlate to an electronic substrate, then that would debunk the belief that it is a biological property. It would be variably realizable as functionalism would contend. In turn, for that to be possible, it suggests a precursor for qualitative manifestation at a more fundamental level that's prior in rank to the advent of biological systems, electronic systems, clockwork machines, etc. That forerunner capacity (panprotoexperialism) incrementally developing in complexity, just as life evolved from the "rudimentary" affairs which chemistry and micro-physics deal with.

Researchers find algorithm for large-scale brain simulations
https://blog.frontiersin.org/2018/03/02/...-exascale/

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#8
(May 4, 2018 08:19 PM)C C Wrote:
(May 4, 2018 04:45 PM)Ostronomos Wrote: CC, A pre-programmed algorithm would suffice as a duplicate for the human soul? In such a computational conjuring, do you think our evolutionary drives and unwanted baggage would be erased, using a humane method to perfect human consciousness, allowing it a kind of purity of which no taint is known? Can we make progress in this type of filtration? Would this require a kind of "reverse conditioning", or is this even possible in theory.


Arguably need to simulate the whole brain and body down to chemical interaction levels to mimic all the quirks of embodied human thought and behavior. Whether or not the end result would result in a p-zombie is an open question. If experience can be produced by or correlate to an electronic substrate, then that would debunk the belief that it is a biological property. It would be variably realizable as functionalism would contend. In turn, for that to be possible, it suggests a precursor for qualitative manifestation at a more fundamental level that's prior in rank to the advent of biological systems, electronic systems, clockwork machines, etc. That forerunner capacity (panprotoexperialism) incrementally developing in complexity, just as life evolved from the "rudimentary" affairs which chemistry and micro-physics deal with.

Researchers find algorithm for large-scale brain simulations
https://blog.frontiersin.org/2018/03/02/...-exascale/

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Wow.

Such a qualitative manifestation would be indivisible.
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